I do not own one of those Nooks, Kindles, e-readers whatever all of them are called so you can download a zillion books and read them whenever you want to. I’m sure I’ll fold sooner or later and get one. Maybe.
Let me preface this by saying: All of you great writers that have published an e-book (I ghostwrote one on chemical-free living several years ago) I applaud you. You rock and if some e-publisher said to me, “Brigitte, I want to publish your book and I’m going to pay you and you’ll make X amount of royalties,” I would go for it. I would do it. I’ve not queried any of these, but Carrie has and she’s about to be published. She also shared how writers can do this from one of her latest posts. Thank you, Carrie, I’m going to look into this. Another, blogger that I follow, Honie Briggs has written an e-book. I admire these gifted writers and I know alot of talent and effort went into their being published.
That’s not what this post is about. It’s about a little snippet I saw on one of those morning programs that gives its audience stories from wars that are going on the world to how to make-the-best-sangria-to-impress-your-friends-at-your-next-soiree-or-beach-party-in-20-seconds-or-less-while-wearing-spanx-juggling-a-career-home-and-personal enlightenment-to-become-the-best-person-you-can-possibly-be-and-whatever-choices-you-make-in-order-to-do-all-of-this-to-get-you-where-you-need-to-be-is-okay-okay-okay.
Most of you have watched these programs. Each “story” is limited to about three (five, if we’re lucky) minutes from everything on how to parent to how to plan for your financial future. Obviously, we all have the attention span of a gnat, so they have to rush information along to cram it all into their segmented time. While those snippets of information are going on, we also see, sometimes in the corner of the screen, what’s coming up! in case we become bored in those precious few minutes. But, I’m getting off the subject here.
You’re Being Monitored – ?
This brief segment on e-readers this morning was about the advantages and disadvantages of reading books on these devices. Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Apple and Google have ways in which they can track how people read on these spiffy tablets. They can monitor what a reader likes or dislikes in a book by the way readers highlight info, makes notes and share that info with others. The guy who presented this information said there’s a way to dislodge this tracking but it’s really complicated to do.
The question was brought up that some of these publishers are taking this information and can begin to dictate how an author writes. Here’s what an article from Chicago Tribune says:
“Digital publishers are now tracking how fast their books are being read and which sections are skipped or highlighted. Barnes and Noble tracks its Nook e-readers to find out which genres are favored and by whom. Amazon, which is both a retailer and a publisher, is especially diligent about gathering data and, some authors fear, may even start telling authors whether the endings to their books work for readers or should be rewritten. Since Nook readers are found to be impatient with overlong nonfiction books, the company has launched Nook Snaps — shorter works in which journalists probe more focused topics of contemporary interest. The advantage of the digital-book business is that it is dominated by three companies — Amazon, Apple and Google — and book apps give them reliable maps of reader interest.”
I don’t know about you but I don’t like someone dictating how my book should turn out just because a certain demographic (which demographic do they get this information from — how to they cull all this info in order to find out what is good and what isn’t??) says they don’t like how this character handled a situation.
The author determines that and I’ve read great books where I thought it was going to go one way and it went an entirely different way. I’ve been disappointed in the ending before, but that’s okay. It made me feel something. That’s the whole twists, turns, pacing, story, plotline, dialogue and element of surprise that a writer has a right to do — manipulate, engage and entertain the reader. I understand that an editor may advise a writer to rewrite a section or do something to a character in order for it to flow better. But, a bunch of readers, from their highlights and comments, determining that?
Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like that.
Now, I sound like my mother. “In my day, things were like this or that.” I’m open to new technology and embracing new things to make our lives better. But some things are sacred and an author’s right to write, to mold characters into living, breathing people of our imaginations and determine how they end up should be entirely up to the person who creates them — the one who sweats, agonizes and pulls all that out from their own mind’s eye. It should not be dictated by Billy or Cindy or OMG Buffy or anyone else that doesn’t like this or that.
Do the little icons and half-heart symbols they insert in their comments mean something too? What about their tweets or facebook rants and raves about a book — will publishers take that into account and then tell the author, I’m sorry you’re going to have to change the ending because 108.275 out of 225.225 did not like the ending??
If you’ve had the patience to read to the end of this post — thank you. I know it’s way too long because blog posts “should be between 300 to 700 words” and I’m past that now. So I’ll stop and go get my book with the pages where I can read the jacket that gives me a synopsis of what I’m about to read and then read the blurb about the person who wrote it and the acknowledgements. Yeah, I’m that big of a nerd — I read all that. I figure if they’ve taken the time to WRITE A BOOK to entertain me, I can give them the respect to read a snippet of how they did it. If I want to highlight or take notes, then I’ll do it with my little sticky things and wow, a notepad. And, no one will know how I feel about it because it’s really none of their damn business.
Educate me, please — those of you who have taken advantage of this new kind of publishing. What do you think? Do you like the idea of the public dictating how you end a book? Please share and forgive me if I got it wrong, I was educated about this within a matter of minutes. :).